The Boston Celtics have needed additional shooters all season, despite having two players that are known as three-point shooting specialists on their roster.
Both Aaron Nesmith and Sam Hauser are seen as exceptionally gifted snipers and came into the NBA expected to be single-skill specialists from deep. Yet, neither Nesmith nor Hauser have been given ample opportunity to shine, as Ime Udoka has leaned heavily on his veteran rotation throughout the season.
While Nesmith is contracted to the Celtics beyond this season, Hauser will possibly enter free agency this summer, should the Celtics opt to decline his $1.5 million team option. Given how teams around the league value sharpshooters, there’s a legitimate risk we see him flourish elsewhere next year if the Celtics decide to cut him loose.
According to Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes, Hauser is the team’s biggest unknown heading into the off-season, “Boston’s top 10 players are all locked into deals for next season. Al Horford has a partial guarantee on his contract, but the Celtics have until Jan. 10 to make their decision. Their $1.5 million team option on Hauser is a more immediate concern.”
Hauser has Shown Flashes
Despite hardly featuring for the Celtics, when the 24-year-old has been given the opportunity, he’s proved his shot is already NBA ready. In his 15 games this season, Hauser is shooting 38.1% from deep, hitting eight of his 21 attempts from deep.
Of course, we also have a small sample size from the sharpshooting rookie in the G-League, where he’s suited up for the Maine Celtics 11 times, averaging 20.3 points on 40.2% three-point shooting and 46.3% from the field.
“Hauser split time between Marquette and Virginia, never shooting below 40.2 percent from deep in any of his collegiate seasons. He’s been a pure specialist in limited duty this year, but the rookie’s shooting has translated,” Hughes wrote.
Considering the Celtics are shooting 34.3% from deep as a team, it makes sense to try and keep a pure shooter on the roster long-term. Granted, there are concerns about the rookie sharpshooter’s defensive ability, but plugging him for short stints could help his development and give Boston the shooting they so desperately need, although that’s unlikely to occur until next season – if they choose to keep him.
Will Celtics Learn From Previous Mistakes
Whenever people discuss potential losing Hauser after this season, the conversation usually flows into Max Strus, who the Celtics opted against signing to a two-way contract a few years back.
The Miami Heat eventually added Strus to their development program, and he has since worked his way from a two-way contract into being a reliable scoring option off the Heat’s bench. For many, that’s what they hope Hauser turns into; a low-usage shooter who can come in and space the floor for the team’s more talented slashers.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee that Hauser’s career pans out in the same manner as Strus’, but the similarities are easy to see. And while Hauser might be the biggest unknown heading into the off-season, his contract is so minimal, that it makes more sense for the Celtics to keep him around for another year than it does to release him into the free-agency pool.
For a team that needs shooting and wishes to keep their cap situation under control, Hauser projects to be a solid fit on the Celtics moving forwards. If the rookie can eventually earn some legitimate minutes under Udoka, Boston may have the answer to their shooting issues waiting in the wings.